Connect & Sync; Hands & Hearts
Connect & sync – as technology makers, we use those words daily. We connect wires and sync signals. Connect devices and sync files. Connect circuits and sync interactions.
In our digital world, however, connecting & syncing as humans has become much less common. Connecting through experience or touch; syncing in thoughts or emotions. We often separate and isolate ourselves.
Even so, on a biological level, we are already all connected as bioelectrical beings. We all have a pulse and we all expend energy as heat. We could even sync our heart beats by changing our breathing. We could maybe sync our temperatures too—using friction or air. We could sync ourselves physically.
We challenged ourselves to make an interactive experience that would help bring people together, connect them – and challenge them to sync up somehow. We wanted to translate these technology terms into human experiences.
Connect & Sync; Hands & Hearts does just that and creates a grand spectacle in the TRL atrium for everyone to enjoy!
Imagine four giant balloons – 5.5’ in diameter each. From each balloon hangs a visualized heart rate pattern—like an EKG graph—lined with LEDs. These are each tethered to a motorized winch on the ground. The tops of the balloons start at about ~20’ high and will rise up to ~40'.
On the ground, there are four stations with four pairs of panels. Each pair has an open gap between them; however, one panel from each station is connected to one panel from the next station. Wiring runs from each pair of panels to the winch for that station. Each station is set at the corner of a ~13’ square.
Four individuals step up and connect by placing their hands on pairs of panels. Once everyone is connected, the sculpture is brought to life.
First, the LEDs will flash as they calibrate and sync to the individuals, changing colour to their temperature. Then, each EKG begins to pulse the lights to each individual’s heart rate as the balloons begin to rise. The speed of the rise and fall of each balloon is a factor of the individuals BPM.
Participants can challenge themselves to sync the speed of their balloons, the pulse of their lights, and their colours. However, if anyone lets go for more than 10 seconds, the experience ends.
Connect & Sync; Hands & Hearts was designed specifically for the Toronto Reference Library atrium space and is interactive in a number of ways.
The atrium boasts a massive amount of floor and air space. We really wanted to take advantage of the height available, while taking into consideration the challenges of suspension and safety.
Our installation uses giant helium balloons to create massive height – up to ~40’ at the highest point – which will not only fill a lot of empty air space, but also create a great spectacle from almost anywhere within the library.
As for interaction, the experience is only triggered when four people complete the circuit. They trigger the balloons to rise and fall, as well as the LED lights to animate. When not connected by people, the installation sits static at its lowest height with no lighting effects.
This project will require:
- (4) motorized winches (provided by us)
- (4) 5.5’ cloudbuster balloons
- (1) helium tank rental (280 cu.ft.)
- (4) Heart rate sensors
- (4) Thermal sensors
- (5) microcontrollers
- (4) 3 or 6m addressable LED strips
- Pulse sculpture materials (wire, foam, etc.)
- (8) Panel materials (acrylic, PVC pipe, concrete post base, sand)
The total cost for materials will be between $1100 - $1250.
Health & Safety:
From a safety perspective, whenever using helium balloons, there is always a risk of rupture. This installation will have a max of ~.5lb weight on each balloon that would fall in the event of a balloon bursting. We could look at running a simple netting across atrium from the second-floor balcony to catch any potential falling hazards. We would need to work with the TLR to determine what is possible or required.
On the ground level, we will use gaff tape to secure the exposed wiring to the floor and can create a roped off barrier to prevent people from wandering directly under the balloons and accessing the winches.